General Question

jamesamakinbeans's avatar

I have 1997 Subaru Legacy Outback. If the timing belt breaks, will it destroy the engine? I've heard some engines will be destroyed, while others will not.

Asked by jamesamakinbeans (2points) June 25th, 2009

I have a two slow oil leaks I took to the mechanic for him to look at. I’m about to leave for a seven day road trip. He says because one of the leaks appears to be coming out around the timing belt cover, he’s worried that the belt will get oil on it and it will slip and fail and that it’s not “safe.” I had oil leaks for years with this car and never had any problem other than some smoke from oil dripping on the exhaust manifold. Two years ago my mechanic fixed about six oil leaks. These are two new ones. I think it’s rather unlikely this slow drip will lead to catastrophe on my road trip. Other opinions?

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9 Answers

tyrantxseries's avatar

It may break possibly causing serious engine damage. When a timing belt breaks, the camshaft stops turning leaving some of the valves in the open position. The crankshaft, because it’s heavier, continues to rotate by inertia. In an interference engine, this will cause the pistons to strike the valves that left open. This may result in broken or bent valves, damaged pistons, and possibly, destroyed cylinder head.
The damage will be less extensive in a non-interference engine but in either case, the engine will stall, leaving you stranded. God I love Google
Hmmmm 7 day road trip, I wouldn’t risk it, I’d get it fixed before I left, nothing better for a trip then your car dying and needing some work done or engine getting destroyed and needing a new engine half way through your trip…. good luck

Dorkgirl's avatar

Most auto makers, Subaru included, recommend changing the water pump and timing belt at about 70,000 miles. It’s usually a dual job because you have to remove one to get to the other.
I’m not a mechanic or a real car person, but I know that much. Hope it helps.

wenn's avatar

if the timing belt break while you are moving there is a good possibility the pistons can hit the valves and bend them, that wont destroy your engine but its nice and spendy to take apart and replace the valves and put it back together.

Fred931's avatar

If you’ve had that many leaks, it’s time to get a new car. Either you or the previous owner took bad care if it, and now it’s unreliable crap. Sorry.

Lupin's avatar

The SOHC version of the 2.2 and 2.5 is not an interference type engine.
The DOHC version is an interference type. You are supposed to replace the belt at 60,000. If it goes, your car is headed for the junkyard. Unless you can do an engine swap yourself.

Lupin's avatar

If you don’t know what engine you have, this is a good source.
I assumed you were in the US. There are other versions of that engine for other countries.

alive's avatar

i went on a 2 day road trip a few months ago. the timing belt broke. it sucked. BAAAD.

7 days. you need to have your carn in the best condition or you might be on the road a lot longer than planned.

jamesamakinbeans's avatar

Thanks for all the comments. I talked to the head mechanic who said I am perfectly safe to go on my trip with a very slow drip, which he suggests we investigate further upon my return. The whole thing about the oil getting on the timing belt was a red herring. The timing belt is in front of the leak, and the air flow will keep the oil away from the belt. Furthermore, the timing belt is just two years old. The car is in excellent repair outside of the leak.

Nikki29_0's avatar

I have a 1997 suburu outback legacy. I was told that it needs a camshaft and timing belt but it would be easier to get a used or new engine. I’m not sure who to believe. Would it be cheaper and easier to install an engine?

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